SEATTLE -- The final two physical steps in left-hander Cliff Lee's long-anticipated Mariners debut will be taken on Tuesday afternoon at Safeco Field, where he pitches the second of two simulated games.
If all goes well, he would make a rehab start, probably with Triple-A Tacoma, and pending the outcome, could be on the Safeco Field mound on May 2 against the Rangers.
However, the decision regarding his appeal of a five-game suspension for throwing a pitch over D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder's head during a Spring Training game on March 15 still has not been reached.
Lee gave his side of the story last Wednesday.
The Mariners would probably activate Lee from the 15-day disabled list the same amount of days prior to his penciled-in start against the Rangers, which means Seattle could play as many as five games with a 24-man roster.
A suspended player must be on the active list to serve his penalty.
Bedard could return by end of May
SEATTLE -- The Mariners could have left-hander Erik Bedard back in the starting rotation near the end of May, manager Don Wakamatsu said on Monday.
Bedard's recovery from shoulder surgery last August to repair a torn labrum has gone so well that the original projection of a 12-month recovery period might be beaten by about three months.
"I think in the best-case scenario, we're looking somewhere toward the end of May," Wakamatsu said, "but we're still quite away from speculating that. His pitch count is up to 60 pitches. He's had some real good days and had some days not as good, but that's normal and we're hoping to get a string here when he continues to pitch well. He feels good."
When healthy, Bedard is regarded as one of the best left-handers in the Major Leagues. But he encountered injury problems during his first two seasons with the Mariners, limiting him to 30 starts.
He has a 11-7 record and 3.24 ERA in those starts with 162 strikeouts and 71 walks in 164 innings.
"We'll just continue to stretch him out and eventually get him out on a rehab assignment and hopefully, we have him back in May," Wakamatsu said. "We were looking at June, July or August, and to have him back in the second month would be phenomenal."
Mariners sign infielder Vazquez
SEATTLE -- The Mariners on Monday signed versatile infielder Ramon Vazquez to a Minor League contract, one week after he became a free agent.
The 33-year-old Vazquez was designated for assignment by the Pirates prior to Opening Day after spending Spring Training with them.
Over the past three seasons, Vazquez appeared in 310 big league games with the Rangers and Pirates. He batted .290 (87-for-300) with 18 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 40 RBIs with the Rangers in 2008.
With Pittsburgh last year, Vazquez hit .230 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 204 at-bats.
He has played every infield position, including 275 games at shortstop, 212 at third base, 165 at second and 11 at first.
Vazquez was originally selected by Seattle in the 27th round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. He spent seven years in the Mariners' farm system before making his Major League debut on Sept. 7, 2001.
He was traded to the Padres following the 2001 season along with catcher Tom Lampkin and right-handed pitcher Brett Tomko for catcher Ben Davis, right-hander Wascar Serrano and infielder Alex Arias.
"He's a guy I was familiar with in Texas," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He had a couple real good years in Texas. He gives us a veteran guy and depth."
Ichiro Suzuki went into Monday night's series opener against the Orioles with a .365 (129-for-353) batting average against the Birds. The right fielder has 66 runs, 13 doubles, five triples, seven homers and 32 RBIs in 84 career games. ... The series opener is also the 1,440th game Ichiro has played with the Mariners, tying Jay Buhner for third place on the all-time list. Edgar Martinez (2,055) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1,661) are first and second.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.